Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comment on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which looks at vaccinating bison against brucellosis without capturing or handling the animals.
The National Park Service promised to evaluate such an approach in the 2000 Record of Decision which created the Interagency Bison Management Plan, a cooperative plan designed to conserve a viable, wild bison population while protecting Montana’s brucellosis-free status.
Yellowstone is home to the last free ranging and wild herd of pure plains bison. Between 40 and 60 percent of the bison have been exposed to the bacteria which causes brucellosis; a disease which can induce abortions or the result in the birth of non-viable calves in both cattle and wildlife.
Park staff members currently vaccinate bison by hand when risk management operations result in animals being held in the Stephens Creek capture facility near the community of Gardiner, Montana.
The purpose of remote vaccination of bison inside the park is to reduce the brucellosis infection rate in order to increase tolerance for bison on historic and essential winter range outside the park in Montana when cattle are not present. The park believes the most logical method for remote delivery of the vaccine is to use a compressed air rifle to deliver an absorbable projectile containing the vaccine.
The Draft EIS looks at continuing the current hand vaccination program, adding a remote vaccination program for young non-pregnant bison, or an approach which would also include remote vaccination of adult females.
Yellowstone is planning to hold a series of open houses to provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the issue in order to provide comments which will be analyzed and used in preparation of the EIS:
Bozeman, MT: June 14 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Comfort Inn, 1370 North 7th Ave.
Helena, MT: June 15 from 6:00-8:30 pm at the Howard Johnson, 2101 E. 11th Ave.
Malta, MT: June 16 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Great Northern Hotel, S. First St. East.
The review and comment period will run for 60 days.
Source: Yellowstone National Park and the National Park Service
Posted by Kaci Switzer